Who (Really) Wins and Loses With Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA)?

We’ve often been asked this question, because when you move from a world where the last touch has received 100% of conversion credit, to multi-touch attribution (MTA), somebody’s got to lose, right?

The answer is: MTA actually creates more winners than losers.

Let’s look at the four major stakeholders: Advertiser/Agency, Networks, Search, and Affiliate.

1. Advertiser/Agency – Winner
Why, because MTA captures the top of the conversion funnel, seeing what planted the seeds for revenue.

Without insight into TV, display, video, upper funnel keywords, and other granular paid media sources–you will inevitably plateau your revenue growth.

With MTA, cutting under-performers and scaling real performers creates exponential impact…and can make you a hero at your company.

2. Advertising Network – Winner
Most Ad Networks will become winners, if they are being measured by an MTA system capturing all addressable and non-addressable media.

Ad Networks strive for a win-win and an ongoing relationship with both Advertiser and Agencies, but due to the outdated ‘last touch’ world, Ad Networks are finding decreased budgets because their ad inventory (whether digital or traditional) does not appear to be working.

With real-time attribution for view-through impressions (with C3 Metrics MTA), Advertisers and Networks quickly realize that what ‘appeared’ to not be working previously, was actually filling up the top part of the funnel with new customers — and can scale this.

Some Networks, however, may lose out in the new world of attribution…but only if they don’t react, utilize the data, and improve efficiency on their end as well as the Advertiser’s end.

MTA can not solve failure to work hard for a client—and perhaps exposes this if taking place.

3. Paid Search – Winner
Google definitely wins in the world of MTA.

Primarily for two major reasons:

  1. Longer MTA look-back windows with Enterprise MTA; and
  2. Previously rejected upper funnel keywords with a higher cost-per-click

Currently, the world’s most popular (free) analytics program used by large and small sites alike is Google Analytics.

It’s great because of many reasons, but when it comes to tracking whether generic (non-brand) search term like “401k” later drove an account being opened more than 90 days later—these analytic programs which only track for 30 days fall short…their tracking simply expires in 30 days.

Quite often we hear clients say their the average “time to convert” is 12 days, or bi-modal…28 days and three days.

But after deploying C3 Metrics, which allows insight into tracking for greater than two years…the average time to convert turns out to be much longer in every respect.

So just by the very fact that solutions like C3 Metrics sit alongside current tracking programs, the search channel and their keywords now get more credit simply because the funnel often has a lifetime greater than 30 days.

Search also wins with MTA by capturing what’s really driving revenue from the top, through the middle, and down to the bottom of the purchase funnel.

It’s been said that attribution is biased against search, because a significant amount of transactions end with a brand term being the last click.

Yes and no.

Brand terms are often at the bottom of the sales funnel after the consumer researches reviews, opinions, and price.

But a smart Advertiser will never cease bidding on its own brand term—and allow its competitor to show up in the first sponsored link up on search. Hardly.

But for the first time, MTA reduces risk on much higher-priced generic terms.

An advertiser might find that generic terms like “401k” or “Savings Account” once had hugely expensive cost per conversion in the last-click world, and stopped spending on those higher cost terms.

But now with MTA insight, they can revisit these terms to discover if they are getting attribution credit resulting in conversions, now revealing the true ROI.

With MTA, Advertisers win with previously missed upper funnel revenue drivers, and the search providers win also by gaining or regaining previously rejected higher cost-per-click terms.

4. Affiliates – Still Winners
Affiliates and their tracking systems were created 20+ years ago, and haven’t changed their credit systems much from the last click.

You would think they would be losers in this new world of MTA, but not so.

Affiliates are often one of the most cost-efficient channels online (and hard to build up over time).

Yes, there is inefficiency, but after running Enterprise MTA programs like C3 Metrics side-by-side with existing tracking programs, the Affiliate channel still performs well from an ROI standpoint.

So the choice becomes one of real world rubber meeting the road.

If you tell your affiliate provider they will all of a sudden make 30-50% less money, but still have to put forth the same effort…they will likely abandon you, and hop over to your competitor.

The choice becomes keeping efficient transactions (perhaps not as efficient as it should be) or losing all those transactions—completely.

Most of our clients see the difference.

They attribute Affiliates, so all components are tracked and add up to 100% of the funnel…but continue to pay current Affiliates the same way they have always paid them.

So current Affiliates still win, but new affiliates might go into a different compensation/tracking system for the future.

The Real Winner

The real winners are first and foremost, the Brand.

In today’s world of increasing pressure to make earnings, and drive more revenue with less cost—proper MTA technology can turn you into a hero at your company in a matter of months.